Lifetime Achievement Awards

Folk Alliance International is proud to announce the 2015 Elaine Weissman Lifetime Achievement Awards, to be presented Thursday, February 19, 2015 at the Westin, Kansas City, USA. The awards are presented each year to a living recipient, a memorial recipient, and an active organization.

Nine finalists were selected from a pool of almost 50 nominees, and the final recipients and were decided upon by a advisory panel of 150 leaders in the folk community.

The ceremony will include a Keynote presentation by folk legend Sylvia Tyson.

Additionally six Spirit of Folk Awards will be presented during the evening. 



Peggy Seeger

Margaret "Peggy" Seeger is one of the leading figures of the British Folk Revival. Born in 1935 into one of North America’s foremost folk music families, Seeger lived and worked in Britain for 35 years with singer Ewan MacColl. Together the two helped create The Radio Ballads, a series of documentary programs for BBC that broke new ground in radio storytelling by blending original music, sound effects, and first-person interviews. MacColl and Seeger went on to found The Critics Group, an influential “master class” for traditional musicians. A multi-instrumentalist, Seeger is acknowledged as one of the finest interpreters of Anglo-American folksongs, and has also written music for films, television and radio.  She has collaborated on books of folksongs with Edith Fowke, Alan Lomax and Ewan MacColl. Many of her original songs are considered classics, including “I Want To Be an Engineer” and “The Springhill Mining Disaster.” She has recorded 23 solo albums and participated in more than a hundred others. Her latest album “Everything Changes” was released in September 2014.


Bessie Jones

 Mary Elizabeth “Bessie” Jones (1902 – 1982) was born in Smithville, Georgia and grew up learning African-American songs and games from her parents and grandparents. Jones was a tremendously gifted teacher and singer who recognized the importance of her African-American folk culture and helped to preserve and spread traditions, in the process influencing generations of civil rights activists, musicians, and scholars. She moved to The Georgia Sea Islands in 1933 and soon became involved with groups dedicated to preserving the folk traditions of the Islands. When she met Alan Lomax in 1959, Jones realized she needed to share her unique cultural heritage with a wider public. In 1963 Jones recruited a group of singers from the islands to form The Georgia Sea Island Singers. The group travelled across North America, appearing at Carnegie Hall, The Newport Folk Festival, The World’s Fair in Montreal, the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, the inauguration of Jimmy Carter and many other notable events. They also performed and taught in hundreds of schools, and in the early 1970’s, Jones released “Step It Down,” a pioneering collection of African-American games, songs, and stories. 

Business / Academic

Canadian Society for Traditional Music

 Formed in 1956 as the Canadian Folk Music Society by the eminent ethnographer and folklorist Marius Barbeau, The Canadian Society for Traditional Music provides a national focus for lovers of diverse musical traditions, with annual conferences held in all regions of the country, from St. John's, Newfoundland, to Vancouver Island, British Columbia. From its initial focus upon First Nations and rural French and English cultures, the Society has broadened its horizons to encompass musical traditions found throughout Canada and the world. Its annual peer-reviewed journal, MUSICultures (formerly the Canadian Folk Music Journal, and before that the Canadian Journal for Traditional Music / La Revue de musique folklorique canadienne), includes scholarly articles pertaining to Canadian, global, and transnational musics. Its quarterly magazine, Canadian Folk Music /Musique folklorique canadienne, contains articles, notices, reviews, and commentary on all aspects of Canadian folk and traditional music. In addition to publications, the CSTM manages an archive of journals, programmes, recordings, books, and pamphlets pertaining to traditional music in Canada. The archive may be accessed at the Music Library of the University of Calgary.



Past Recipients (1995-2014)

The Elaine Weissman Lifetime Achievement Awards are presented each year during the annual International Folk Alliance Conference.

Awards are presented to a living recipient, a memorial recipient, and an active organization.


2014: Buddy MacMaster, Dock Boggs, Smithsonian Folkways Recordings

2013: The Weavers, Mike Seeger, Augusta Heritage Center

2012: Robert Johnson, Harry Belafonte, The Highlander Center

2011: Jimmie Rodgers, Joan Baez, Les Blank

2010: Elizabeth Cotten, Bob Dylan, National Council for Traditional Arts

2009: Phil Ochs, Guy & Candie Carawan, Old Town School of Folk Music           

2008: Mavis Staples, Tommy Jarrell, Rounder Records

2007: Earl Scruggs, Dave Van Ronk, Manny Greenhill

2006: Tom Paxton, Clifton Chenier, Kenneth Goldstein

2005: Odetta, Stan Rogers, The Newport Folk Festival

2004: New Lost City Ramblers, Mississippi John Hurt, Bess Lomax Hawes

2003: Ralph Stanley, Reverend Gary Davis, SingOut!

2002: Hazel Dickens, Bill Monroe, Harold Leventhal

2001: Lydia Mendoza, Paul Robeson, Ralph Rinzler, Smithsonian Folklife Festival

2000: Doc Watson, Dewey Balfa, Edith Fowke

1999: Dr. Bernice Johnson Reagon, The Carter Family, Anne and Frank Warner

1998: Jean Ritchie, Huddie “Lead Belly” Ledbetter, American Folklife

1997: Bruce “Utah” Phillips, Chris Strachwitz, Arhoolie Records

1996: Woody Guthrie, Moe Asch/Folkways Records

1995: Pete Seeger, Alan Lomax

509 Delaware St. #101
Kansas City, MO 64105
TEL: 816-221-FOLK (3655)
FAX: 816-221-3658

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